Researchers look for smaller, cheaper, one-dose vaccines

Jan 15, 2008

A team of Iowa State University researchers is examining a new vaccine method that may change the way we get vaccinations.

Michael Wannemuehler and his team of researchers is hoping to find a way to produce vaccines that work better, use smaller doses and require only one trip to the doctor's office.

Traditionally, injectable vaccines have often been prepared from killed bacteria. The vaccinated person's immune system then learns to recognize the bacteria as a threat and consequently builds up defenses against it. Then, if the individual is exposed to the live version of the infectious agent, his or her body is already prepared to defend itself.

Wannemuehler's research is focused on the use of just a part of the bacteria -- a protein -- as a vaccine, instead of the entire bacteria, coupled with novel polymers that will be used to deliver these vaccines. This combination of new approaches will allow vaccines doses to be smaller, safer and induce fewer side effects.

"As we move away from using whole bacteria, we're going to more molecular approaches with purified proteins or portions of proteins," said Wannemuehler, a professor of veterinary microbiology and preventative medicine. "What these technologies should allow us to do is, instead of injecting 100 units to get protection, we can inject one unit, for example."

Wannemuehler's research targets the bacteria that causes plague, a disease that's rare in the United States, but is still found in other parts of the world.

Using select proteins of the bacteria coupled with unique polymers can reduce the amount of vaccine needed as well as costs for shipping and storage. That makes the vaccine economically feasible for areas at a great distance, such as Africa, where vaccines can be difficult to obtain.

Also, vaccinating a large population can be difficult if more than one dose or injection is required. In places where doctors are scarce, locating and vaccinating patients can be difficult. In addition, having the same patients return for their booster vaccinations can be even more complicated.

"Another aspect is the hope that this would be single dose," said Wannemuehler. "We hope we can get a robust response with one dose."

And there will likely be uses beyond the plague.

"If this technology works here," said Wannemuehler, "it's completely transferable to any protein, with minor changes."

Wannemuehler is working with BioProtection Systems Corp. of Ames on this research. BPSC hopes to supply lower-cost vaccines to government agencies for use where the plague is still a threat.

"We are thankful that the Iowa Values Fund supports our collaboration with Iowa State University and allows us to combine our broadly applicable vaccine technology with theirs for the development of more effective vaccines," said Joe Lucas of BPSC, located at the Iowa State University Research Park.

Source: Iowa State University

Explore further: US scientists make embryonic stem cells from adult skin

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

First metritis vaccine protects dairy cows

Apr 15, 2014

(Phys.org) —Cornell scientists have created the first vaccines that can prevent metritis, one of the most common cattle diseases. The infection not only harms animals and farmers' profits, but also drives ...

NASA to conduct unprecedented twin experiment

Apr 11, 2014

Consider a pair of brothers, identical twins. One gets a job as an astronaut and rockets into space. The other gets a job as an astronaut, too, but on this occasion he decides to stay home. After a year ...

Climate conditions help forecast meningitis outbreaks

Mar 18, 2014

Determining the role of climate in the spread of certain diseases can assist health officials in "forecasting" epidemics. New research on meningitis incidence in sub-Saharan Africa pinpoints wind and dust ...

A digital version of you

Mar 12, 2014

When NASA's Mars Rover Opportunity sends a photograph of the alien landscape back to Earth, it relays the information as digital data, a series of ones and zeros that computers assemble into pictures that ...

Recommended for you

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...

New pain relief targets discovered

Apr 17, 2014

Scientists have identified new pain relief targets that could be used to provide relief from chemotherapy-induced pain. BBSRC-funded researchers at King's College London made the discovery when researching ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Less-schooled whites lose longevity, study finds

Barbara Gentry slowly shifts her heavy frame out of a chair and uses a walker to move the dozen feet to a chair not far from the pool table at the Buford Senior Center. Her hair is white and a cough sometimes interrupts her ...

How to keep your fitness goals on track

(HealthDay)—The New Year's resolutions many made to get fit have stalled by now. And one expert thinks that's because many people set their goals too high.

Low tolerance for pain? The reason may be in your genes

Researchers may have identified key genes linked to why some people have a higher tolerance for pain than others, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 66th Annual ...

AMA examines economic impact of physicians

(HealthDay)—Physicians who mainly engage in patient care contribute a total of $1.6 trillion in economic output, according to the American Medical Association (AMA)'s Economic Impact Study.

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.